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Chronicles of an Obsessive Bookblogger: The Book Review Conundrum

chronicles of an obsessive bookblogger

The Book Review Conundrum:

Today I’d like to discuss book reviews: specifically 1) my reviewing process and how it has changed over the last two years 2) my alternating problem with having either too many or too few books to review, and 3) my battle with publishing impatience. I know these sound like they could be individual topics, but they’re all things I struggle with whenever I try to improve my blogging experience (and that of my readers).

The Book Review Evolutionary Process

When I started this blog two years ago, I was posting a book review every other day. When I finished a book, it got written about immediately. Even I can’t read THAT fast (unless I’m exclusively reading YA), so I supplemented the reviews with my book review journal – which contained a hefty arsenal of books read before I started the blog. It’s how I kept track of books before I discovered blogging. I’d even go as far as to print out little pictures of the covers to tape inside. Anyway, when I ran out of current titles, I just pulled out that journal and transcribed the pages into posts.

Even while “cheating” with older reviews, posting every other day was a lot of work… perhaps too much. I was also at risk of overwhelming my audience. So to avoid burnout and unnecessarily inundating my readers, I took a chill pill and switched over to reviewing two times per week rather than three or four.

Too Far Ahead of the Game

Now, reviewing feels more free and easy – I write them when I feel like it. The downside to this newfound freedom is that sometimes the posts just don’t happen. I went from posting around fifteen reviews a month to seven or less. This is a change I think both my readers and I are happy with, but it did create a problem I never thought I’d have: too many books to review and not enough time… and it’s only getting worse.

I can remember several week stints in which I had trouble reading enough books to sustain my goal of two fresh reviews per week (as opposed to ones taken from the pre-blog journal). But now I’m reading more per week than ever before and am getting completely buried under TBReviewed titles. I can think of worse blogging catastrophes, for sure, but seriously, I now have have seventeen, I repeat SEVENTEEN unreviewed books from this year alone. If I don’t get inspired and post a review right after I’ve read a book, there’s a good chance the review is from a book read in February or March… It’s July. #fail.

At least I don’t feel at risk of forgetting how I felt about the book – I take thorough notes, and I have decent recall of everything I’ve read (within the last ten years, anyway). Every once in a while, I struggle with regaining my emotional reaction to a book, but a quick skim through usually brings it all back. Furthermore, not all reviews have to wait in line. I usually post reviews for 5-star books soon after reading them because, frankly, I just can’t wait to talk about them (has anybody who has followed me for a while wondered why I’ve reviewed so many 5-star books lately? Granted, I’ve been really good at picking titles, but I haven’t been that good, haha). In a way, this method has served me well because my excited “just finished the book” feelings gets poured into those reviews – usually making them better. I should also mention that I always post right away for “obligation” books (ARCs) and ones I REALLY didn’t like (which are few and far between). It’s the middle of the road titles that I find difficult to make time for.

All Is Not Lost!

So you ask, why don’t you just write reviews when you have the time then schedule them for a later date? I think it’s a great idea, but haven’t been able to do it. I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s like this, but once I write a review, I want to share it… immediately. It’s this crazy impulse to hit “publish” even if it means sharing two, possibly even three posts a day. If I don’t publish it right away, it hangs over my head and actually stresses me out more than if I’d just waited until the last minute to write it (this is the only place in my life where that sentiment is true – I’m usually a very “get it done now so you can play later” type of person).

I guess my point in all this is that I am fighting annoyance with how far behind in reviews I am while simultaneously trying not to set myself up for blogging burnout. I have yet to experience burnout of any kind, thankfully, and I think that has a lot to do with stress-reducing adjustments I’ve made along the way. Although I have occasionally felt a mite stressed to get something out on time, I haven’t ever felt like I need a break longer than just a couple of days. It’s essential for me to keep blogging fun because it’s something I’m truly passionate about. Avoiding burnout will be even more important going forward as I am working on several self-motivated projects that require me to sit in front of the computer screen all day (writing a book while starting a magazine… i.e. topics for another post). On the bright side, I can stop reading for several months and still have material to blog about (yeah, like that will ever happen). :)

Am I Alone?

How often per week do you write book reviews? Has it changed since you started blogging? Do you find yourself behind in your reviews or constantly struggling to finish books to write about?

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Bookblogger!

Top ten Tuesday pink

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 I love these types of Top Tens because it gives me a chance to share a little more of my personality beyond my taste in books. This one took me a lot longer than usual to compose, so please forgive the late posting. In no particular order, here’s the:

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Bookblogger!

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 1. Level-up Bookseller

I knew a lot about books before, but my knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not has expanded considerably since I joined the book blogging community. I’m also better able to speak to the titles I’ve read because by the time I talk to a customer I’ve already thoroughly evaluated my opinions on each title. At the very least, it keeps me from getting tongue-tied when someone wants to know about a book. :-)

2. Now, It’s Personal

  Before I discovered book blogging, I spent several years logging all of my book thoughts by hand – even going so far as to print out little photos of the covers to tape inside my journal. Holy cow have I come a long way! This blog is something I’m really passionate about and I love how truly personal I’ve been able to make it. I would probably be utilizing it to track my reading even if there wasn’t a follower option (although I do love that I get to share my thoughts with other readers).

 3. Author Love

If you had told me a year ago that I have so many interactions with my favorite authors through this blog, I probably would’ve laughed and said “I wish.” After all, there are thousands and thousands of book bloggers, and even with the steady growth I’ve maintained over the last year, I’m nowhere near as accomplished as most of the ones I follow. Nonetheless, I’ve had some pretty amazing author moments – including a tweet of one of my reviews from my all-time favorite author!

 4. Righting my Writing

 I’m happy to practice my craft, no matter the format. Composing reviews and even responding to comments keeps me sharp. I’ve noticed a measurable improvement in my writing since I’ve made blogging a daily activity, particularly with grammar and sentence structures.

5. The Shrunken TBR

After reading a few lists today, I realized that most people have the opposite problem. Since my awareness of what is out on the market (due to book blogging and bookselling) is a bit more extensive than most, I already have a pretty good idea of what I want to read. Book blogging actually helps me eliminate titles off the list because I feel I can rely on other bloggers’ opinions a lot more than random customers (of course, my bookselling buddies help me with this too). They also help me prioritize my TBR.

 6. “You’re the Only One Who Understand Me” ::sobs::

I’ve never before felt so a part of such a cool community – all of you book bloggers are friggen awesome! You guys just get all of my bookish problems and woes, and that is a nice feeling. I’ve made a lot of friends and participated in some really cool events (all things books, of course) and have truly had a ball!

 7. Rainy Day ARCs

 As a book blogger, I of course have experienced the joys of Netgalley and Edelweiss. Not only have I discovered some of my favorite new authors, but have also gotten my hands on works from my favorite authors months before they hit the stands! This is a very dangerous thing for me, as I don’t like to put obligations on my reading. But I can never seem to stop hitting “request title” no matter how hard I try.

  8. Book Love

Specifically when I recommend a book to someone and they love it! It makes my day, and I thoroughly enjoy being the one to hand someone their next awesome read. I think this is my ultimate mission as a book blogger.

 9. Now We’re in Business!

 You know you’re really committed to something when you are willing to pay fifty dollars for a few hundred business cards. Even though I changed the name of the blog about a month after I got them, I still am positively thrilled any time I get to hand one out.

10. Niki Unleashed!

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? This blog has been an incredible creative outlet for me, and I have spent hours and hours figuring out how to display everything in a way that I find visually appeasing. I’m still not totally there, but if you’ve been around since the beginning, you’ll definitely be able to tell how far I’ve come. Every single post is an opportunity for me to get creative and present things my own unique way.

by Niki Hawkes